Kentucky State Police were called to investigate a bomb scare Thursday in Monroe County after local police officers received several calls about bomb threats being made throughout Tompkinsville.
Five bomb threats made within a few short minutes of each other at the county attorney’s office, Tompkinsville Elementary School, Sonic Drive-In, McDonalds and the Subway restaurant located inside Walmart.
Nanette Thomas, who works at the county attorney’s office, received one of the phone calls. It occurred around 8:10 a.m.
“They told me to listen and to listen very closely that there were explosives in our building and they would detonate in 15 minutes,” said Thomas.
She first thought the call was a joke, but soon realized it wasn’t.
“We called the police department and we got out quickly,” Thomas said.
At about the same time, employees at Sonic Drive-In, McDonalds, Tompkinsville Elementary and Subway got similar phone calls.
Varsha Shelat, who owns the Subway restaurant located inside Walmart, answered the phone when the call came in at her restaurant.
“It was a man’s voice. He said, ‘Can you hear me?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir, I can,’ because I thought it was a customer calling with an order. Then he said, ‘I want you to listen very carefully. There are several bombs in your building,’” she said. “And that scared me.”
Shelat and her husband, Pete, contacted Walmart management, who then called the police and began evacuating the building.
Dallas Graves, the parent of two Tompkinsville Elementary students, was in the school’s office around 8 a.m. when a school secretary got one of the calls.
Learning there was a bomb threat at the school was scary, he said.
“I was scared for the kids. I wanted to get them out and to safety; get everybody out safely,” he said. “I was just afraid something was going to happen.”
Graves was asked to help school officials evacuate the building.
His children did not know anything serious was happening.
“They just thought it was a drill,” he said.
Tompkinsville police officers were first on the scene shortly after the calls were made.
“Our role was to set up perimeters and to evacuate the nearby areas and then when we got a call from the elementary school, we actually made that a priority,” said Police Chief Dale Ford. “We evacuated all the schools in the county.”
Tompkinsville police officers also conducted primary searches of businesses that received bomb threats. The businesses, as well as the school, were searched again by the state police’s special operations unit and two K-9 units specializing in explosives.
“We responded to all the businesses that were actually losing money for not being open immediately,” said Sgt. Chis Knifley with the state police’s special operations unit.
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